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In One Year, Great Notion Brewing Changed Portland Beer Forever

No Oregon brewery has ever had a year like Great Notion.

2204 NE Alberta St., No. 101, 503-548-4491, greatnotionpdx.com. noon-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

No Oregon brewery has ever had a year like Great Notion. On New Year's Day of 2016, three homebrew buddies with no professional experience or training took over a tiny, forgotten brewpub space on Alberta. A year later, they're the most discussed, debated and imitated brewery in the state, having completely changed the conversation around IPA.

The magic is in the yeast, cultivated from cans of Heady Topper and bottles of Hill Farmstead by guru James Dugan. Dugan, an active beer trader, cultivated the yeast for his own homebrew because he wanted to drink more juicy, cloudy New England-style IPA than he could practically acquire via UPS. Neighbor-turned-business-partner Andy Miller started hanging out and helping brew, and next thing you know Dugan was leveraging his house to contract the massive amount of Citra and Mosaic hops they needed to take Juice Jr. and Ripe commercial. They can't make enough of either, so very little of Great Notion's beer ever escapes the packed-to-the-gills taproom.

In addition to the cloudy IPAs, Great Notion does fun and aggressively flavored novelties like a blueberry beer that tastes exactly like a Costco blueberry muffin and a maple-drenched imperial breakfast stout. The food menu is also quirky and well-executed—think fried plantains and "nachos" made with cheese fried into the shape of a chip, then topped with salsa.

Drink this: You have to drink Juice Jr., the beer of the year. But also keep an eye out for anything new, like the Ambrosia sour made for WW's Pro/Am. It's a saison that gets layered sourness from a blend of lacto, pedio and Brett that was aged in oak with local grapes. It's the second-best grape beer I had this year—behind Upright's Oregon Native.

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This Year's Guide Is Dedicated to Dean Pottle

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